The Elixir

He tasted the purple elixir, and it was like the juices of every delicious fruit in the world had merged into one liquid. The sweetness brought him immeasurable pleasure. It was as if Mother Nature had spent years perfecting the most delectable concoction one could conceive. The elixir tasted organic, not like a sugary beverage that would leave your teeth aching, but rather a handful of berries at the end of a tiresome day.

And it had been a tiresome day indeed! This traveler had trekked up the green crystal mountain to reach the prize he had sought for many years. And at last, his late nights of rummaging through ancient texts, his early mornings of scanning atlases, and his remarkable trip to this fantastic destination had paid off. The deep, rich, violet nectar dripped from the corners of his mouth, and ran down his neck in dark streams. He clutched the drinking horn with two trembling hands. The traveler feared taking a break to breathe, for he did not want his tongue to go without the taste of the elixir for even a second.

But he had to breathe eventually. He gently placed the horn on its coarse pedestal. The traveler inhaled the thin mountain air. He stood within a well-lit cave just barely below the mountain’s summit. The cave echoed each of his breaths, which conveyed both exhaustion and pleasure at once.

There was a beautiful solitude in this cave. The elixir was an incredibly sought-after item. Many had dedicated their lives to finding it, and passed away before uncovering even a clue. So you can understand why this traveler’s pleasure came not only from the liquid itself, but also the satisfaction of being the first to accomplish this seemingly impossible task.

Perhaps you are curious about what properties this violet elixir possesses, aside from its inherent tastiness. Well, according to legend (and at this point in history, legends were practically considered fact), he or she who consumed every last drop of the drinking horn’s contents would be granted the mythic power of All-Sight. This individual would become known as the All-Seer, and they could supposedly see anything. While there was no official All-Seer prior to this day, countless people had theorized about the range of possibilities offered by this power.

One could see into a room halfway across the world. One could see a day two hundred years in the past, or two thousand years in the future. One could see the imperceptible elements in the very air around them. One could see concepts such as thoughts or emotions, things completely intangible. One could see the secrets of the universe, truths hidden from mankind throughout all of history. One could see the path to power, greatness, success, fortune, or love. One could see the gods and higher powers. One could see alternate dimensions and realities. One could see anything that ever was, is, or will be.

The traveler’s mind was now racing with thoughts of what would soon become possible for him. He clutched the drinking horn with anxious hands, leaned back, and continued consuming the liquid. He was no longer savoring its sweetness. Now he simply funneled the elixir down his throat, ready to become the All-Seer and descend from the mountain a changed man.

But this horn was deceptive in its depth. Every time he thought he was nearing the last drop, another wave of elixir would come rushing into his mouth. After nearly two minutes of this, he finally held the horn to the light coming from the cave entry. He examined the horn from this angle, and was absolutely shocked to discover that it appeared just as full as it had when he arrived.

He touched his fingers to his mouth, and felt the moisture of the elixir, confirming that he had not imagined the last several moments of drinking. He eyed the horn curiously, then returned the rim to his lips and kept drinking. This phenomenon persisted for several minutes more, the horn never losing its weight, and the elixir never losing its volume. He began to wonder if he had some kind of decoy elixir, one meant to test the wits of a potential All-Seer. So he carefully set down the horn and explored the rest of the cave. This took very little time, because the cave was rather small and had very few crevasses where one could hide something of this size.

The traveler unstrapped his satchel and opened it up to review his journals and maps. He reassured himself there was simply no way he had gotten these coordinates wrong. Years of research, building off the findings of adventurers who lived and died before his time, had led to the conclusion that this very spot was where the elixir would be found that would grant him the power of All-Sight. So the traveler kept drinking.

And he kept drinking and drinking and drinking. His stomach grew full and his arms grew tired, but he never stopped drinking. The traveler stayed in this cave for days upon days until he had lost count of the sunrises. He would occasionally convince himself that he had made some progress, only to realize the drinking horn was not a drop emptier than it was when he had first arrived.

What kept the weary traveler motivated all this time? More so than the right to gloat, he truly craved the ability to see into the future so he might live his life in the fullest way possible. He wanted riches, fame, true love, and the most efficient route to each. Knowing his own future, and knowing secrets of the universe hidden from the rest of mankind, would certainly guarantee his success. Or so he believed.

More days passed. Then months. Then years. The elixir had enough nutrition to keep him alive while he stayed in the cave and consumed nothing else, but just barely. His body was slowly withering away. The seasons became seconds. A harsh winter felt like a gust of wind. He lost his grip on time entirely, and decades went by with only a single thought on his mind… finishing the elixir. He was wildly addicted to its sweetness, and the idea of the fortune it would one day bring him.

On the traveler’s ninety-second birthday, which was just another day in his eyes, he collapsed. His arthritic hands were pale and bone-thin like the rest of his body, but he still managed to keep hold of the drinking horn as he sank to the cave floor. His body was telling him it was his time. He felt his heart rate dropping, and the nerves across his body becoming numb. This was the end. But he poured the contents of the horn into his mouth, using the final burst of willpower that remained in his soul. And as the elixir went down his throat, he looked into the horn. It was empty at last.

The traveler saw everything. He saw the secrets of the universe. He saw the entire span of Earth’s life. He saw the components of the air that surrounded him. And as he’d hoped, the traveler saw the path that would have granted him true love. He saw the path that would have led him to great riches. He saw all the paths that would have made him a successful and fulfilled man. But none of those paths involved him finishing the elixir. None of those paths involved him knowing how his story ended. And only then did he understand the beautiful curse to which he had fallen victim.

He released the drinking horn from his grasp, and with the last bit of strength he would ever muster, the traveler extended one arm toward the cave entry. And the breeze that touched his fingertips felt sweeter than the elixir had ever tasted.

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